Friday, July 13, 2007

Open Wide--Here Comes the Airplane

Arthur Pepper, the Executive Director of the UFT Welfare Fund, sits on the Board of Directors and Corporate Officers of GHI. So who's in a better position to inform rank and file about the upcoming GHI-HIP merger?

Probably no one. Mr. Pepper says the combined buying power of these two organizations will result in premium stabilization. That sounds viable.

The process of bringing these companies together will be ongoing and subscribers in each plan will not see any immediate changes in their benefits or the way they access their care.

That sounds good too, if you don't look ahead (a bad habit of mine, and I'm not sure where I picked it up). What happens after we see "no immediate changes?" But where Mr. Pepper really loses me is here:
As part of the process, GHI and HIP are also moving ahead to convert to “for-profit” status rather than their current “not-for-profit” designation. As a “not-for-profit” entity there are statutory restrictions that limit the accumulating of revenue that can be used for improvements such as updating claim processing systems. For instance under the GHI program, currently any money realized at the end of the year is returned to the City program as a dividend which helps to keep the benefit costs stable.

Now isn't it a good thing to help keep benefit costs stable? If we don't, doesn't it imply that benefit costs will not be stable? And if such costs were reduced by the merger, wouldn't it be a good idea to pass on the reductions to those of us who work?

And won't the "for-profit" moniker encourage these companies, which as far as I know cover most city employees, to deny coverage to save money (like other private companies do)? Or are they really gonna use profits only to update claims systems?

Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I never imagined the union would dump seniority placement, send us back in the lunchrooms, support charter school entrepreneurs, make high school teachers teach six classes, make teachers come in in August (for no reason and no money), or support the unpaid suspension of teachers based on unsubstantiated charges.

Since they've now done all of the above, it seems more than prudent to be wary of their pronouncements.
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